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How Can I Retain Information From My Sources? - Annotating a Text

Compiling information for research starts the moment you begin to read. Marking up a text or annotating it is a simple and effective way to take notes and retain information. It also gives you an opportunity to review your sources at a glance. With slight variations, this process is the same that you use for textual analysis and consists of three steps. With a brightly colored pen, pencil, or marker:

  • Mark key words and dates by circling or underlining them. Try to identify topic sentences and thesis statements and highlight them completely.
  • Label in the margin next to the paragraph key information, such as the approach to your subject or the relationship to other sources you are using.
  • Note the key ideas or facts in the passage as they relate to your research topic and suggest where they might fit in your outline or research plan.

Annotate your texts effectively and you can use them as stand-alone notes to be integrated into drafting or you can transfer them later to either a double-entry journal or your research log. Remember to double-check that you have complete bibliographic information and page numbers on all pages you photocopy, print, or download for note taking.